Eight Days . . . That Changed Twelve Lives
The SHEN Personal Empowerment Workshop (Part 2)
By Robert Ross
The following article is a continuation of Part 1, which was published in the July/August issue of Awareness Magazine. Part 1 was a diary of the first four days of the SHEN eight-day Personal Empowerment workshop. Part I can be seen on Awareness Magazine’s web page - www.awarenessmag.com (in the Library - July/August issue).
Part II is a continuation of that diary, covering days five through eight of the Workshop.
In part II, I have included a very brief introduction for readers who have not yet read part 1.
In May of this year, thirteen people gathered together for an eight-day SHEN Empowerment and Training workshop in San Diego, California.
Our purpose in taking the workshop was to learn SHEN healing techniques, and to be recipients of these healing techniques ourselves. All the participants were aware that they would be on the special SHEN “cradle.” A cradle is an apt term, used by SHEN practitioners to describe a cot that is strapped to a massage table. Climbing on the cradle and having a practitioner or a workshop participant place their hands on you in a specific manner, can start the process of releasing deep-seated and hidden emotions. We were there to learn that “particular manner” of hand placement. The participants in the workshop would learn that some of these emotions would rise with a vengeance. Over eight days, the sounds of anguish and pain would be as common in our training room, as the sound of laughter in a school playground.
The first four days of the SHEN Personal Empowerment Workshop were more than just instructive. The healing techniques we were learning were yielding results — emotional releases were being heard throughout the room, and relationships were being examined . . .
Eight-Day Experience - Part II
The Evening of Day Four
I walked in the door of my home knowing that an answer to my question “do you feel loved” awaited me. Before I kicked off my shoes, I asked my wife, well, do you feel loved? My wife explained how she had cried on her way to work that morning, obviously giving the question a lot of thought. But, she was somewhat reluctant to answer the question. Part of me didn’t want to hear or know the answer. I was tired, and not sure if I was emotionally prepared for what might be said. But I kept probing. The answer came . . . not what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t a thumbs down answer. But it wasn’t a thumbs up answer either. There was work to be done on the home front.
Day five began with only twelve members in our workshop. We had started with thirteen. A participant had been taking the first four days as a part of the review program. In the past, the SHEN Empowerment workshop had been divided into two, four-day workshops. In order to become a SHEN practitioner, a candidate must have taken these two, four-day workshops twice. Recently, the four-day workshops were combined into one eight-day workshop.
By day five, the pattern had become routine — share thoughts and feelings, hit the cradles and turn on the wave machine. The wave machine is a device that produces the relaxing sounds of ocean waves crashing on the shoreline. I began to associate the sound of the waves and the SHEN cradle with deep relaxation. It was evident to me that the quicker I could let go and get into a relaxed state, the better the odds of having a productive session — a belief that paid off during the remaining days of the workshop.
During the morning session we focused on the arms, and the flow that goes from the left hand (for the right-handed sender) up the arm across the shoulder and down the right arm and out the sending hand. This particular flow is important from a practitioner’s view point. It is this flow that is the tool of the trade. Some workshop participants even started referring to this flow as “the juice.” If you had a good flow running from your sending hand through the recipient’s body to your receiving hand, you had good juice and the chances were better that you might produce results for the person you were working on.
In the afternoon session, rather than working on just one emotion center, we worked on both the Heart and Solar Plexus. Again, the all too familiar sounds of pain, grief and sorrow permeated the air.
All of the grieving and emoting over the past five days left many of us feeling very tender. In the coming three days of the workshop I would hear the word “raw” throughout the room from time to time. “Raw” as in raw emotions. Raw, as in feeling vulnerable, hypersensitive, weary, tired. By the end of day five, I understood the word. I was feeling raw. This tiredness would be verbally acknowledged by various group members also in days six and seven. And in day eight, this rawness would express itself in an event that would leave us all feeling a bit uncomfortable.
We gathered for our morning meeting. There was a small group around one of the participants. “Look at her face,” one participant stated. “She looks ten years younger!” another said. I glanced in her direction. Sure enough, there was a youthful glow about her face. The amount of emotional baggage that had been released had quite a dramatic effect on this person’s skin tone and coloring. She did look ten years younger.
We began our morning ritual of sharing, and soon, as usual, the tears were flowing. As I listened, I was in awe of the group’s respect for each other. Some of the sharing, under ordinary circumstances, would be considered unusual. Some of the shares seemed repetitious, and some went on for what seemed like forever, and yet, we as a group, had created a safe environment for that to happen. People shared, the group listened, no comments, no judgements, no eyes rolling, no whispers of give me a break. We listened attentively and respectfully.
In the morning session of day six we worked on the Kath and Solar plexus emotion centers. In SHEN theory, the Kath area holds the emotions of shame, embarrassment, powerlessness, centeredness and empowered confidence. For example, if an embarrassing event occurs in one’s life, and this embarrassment is not experienced, the body contracts and the emotion of embarrassment is stored in the musculature of that area. Over a lifetime of un-experienced emotions, a layering effect takes place. On the SHEN cradle, as unwanted — stuck emotions are released, others are exposed, like the peeling of an onion skin . . . layer by layer.
It was in day seven that SHEN theory really crystallized for me. Terms that were used in the workshop like biofield, Qi (pronounced chee), and flows had started to make sense.
I began the workshop aware of the word aura — that field that reportedly surrounds the body of an individual. This concept of an aura, or a field surrounding the body was taken by Pavek and made meaningful. SHEN theory holds that there is a field that emanates from and surrounds an individual’s body. SHEN calls this the biofield. This field follows predictable patterns. One pattern flows up the right side of the body over the head and down the left side of the body. There’s another predictable flow pattern (for a right-handed sender) from the left hand up the left arm across the shoulders and down the right arm. Each of the five emotion centers (Heart, Solar Plexus, etc.) has a predictable flow pattern also. For visualization purposes, the emotion center flow patterns resemble a water fountain that you might see in a park — water gurgling up, cascading outward and back down. The SHEN term used to describe the actual material of the flows and biofield — if you could grab a handful of it — is Qi.
The afternoon session was puzzling, to say the least. We were focusing on the Root emotion center and the legs in one session. The Root area holds the emotions of terror, grief, and horror. The legs hold no emotions whatsoever, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. By the end of the session, I could hardly get off the cradle. My body felt as though I had received a deep tissue massage, and then a lead blanket had been laid over it for an extended period of time. During the wrap-up sharing session at the end of the day, I joked about what an odd experience I had on the cradle. To this day, I’m still puzzled about its significance.
We gather. In many ways, it’s been a long eight days. The group is tired, on edge, raw. I’m tired, and relieved that it’s over; time to get my life back in order — return phone calls, answer e-mails, wash the car. Pavek sets aside some time in the morning to explain the physics of SHEN and answer questions. The answers are for me fascinating, but I start to notice an uneasiness among some members of the group. Then, There’s an outburst of anger from one of the group members concerning time and how it should be spent. Uncomfortable, we break for lunch. Upon returning from lunch, it is evident that we are missing that member. We have spent the last eight days experiencing some of the more painful events in our lives and in the lives of others. We have spent the last eight days listening to stories that were unsettling. So, as we approach the end of what was at times, a grueling experience, one member is in the thick of an upset and has chosen not to return. No one comments, but we’re all aware. I’m uncomfortable and debate whether or not to acknowledge the absence of this member. I decide not to.
We hit the cradles for what is referred to as a reintegration session. It is our last time on the cradles; kind of a winding down session, a deep relaxation session. I’m troubled that we’re missing a group member. I hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline and drift off into a sleeplike state. We finish the session. I’m in a deeply relaxed state. It’s O.K. with me that a group member is missing. In fact, everything seems O.K. The world is right. I’m happy. This marathon experience is over. I’m going home . . . to reflect, to talk, to eat and to rest.
We quickly fold up the tables, hugs are exchanged, the room empties in record time.
I came to the workshop with a healthy skepticism. I left a believer. But I scratch my head from time to time, almost as though my experience was a dream. What was that all about? Did that really happen?
The title of the article is “Eight Days That Changed Twelve Lives.” Did it change twelve lives? I don’t know. I do know that it was a profound and powerful experience. I know there were participants in the workshop who will view life differently after having had the experience. And I do know that it opened up a new area of interest for me — hands-on healing. Did it change my life? Time will tell. I am thankful I had the experience, and I will think about it for a long time to come. A very long time.
For additional local information about SHEN please see ad on page 26 or contact the SHEN Therapy Institute, SHEN_ISTA@hotmail.com or (415) 332-2593.
Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at: SanDiegoRoss@Yahoo.com
Copyright 2001 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved
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